By Margarita Nahapetyan
Keds, America's favorite footwear brand, has announced that it is launching a unique new designer collection in collaboration with green fashion label Loomstate, a design house that is using organic cotton in its products. The collection will exclusively available at select Barneys New York stores nationwide as well as on Barneys.com starting this June.
The line will feature five prints based on the Keds classic Champion(R) silhouette, priced at $75 a pair, each made of 100 per cent certified organic cotton for uppers and linings, nickel free eyelets and 100 per cent recycled insole boards. In order to reduce the product's carbon footprint, all items will be packaged in recycled shoeboxes branded as Keds by Loomstate collection.
According to Barneys senior vice president and fashion director Julie Gilhart, they are very excited about the collaboration which made sense for the fashion-forward store. Mixing the rich and classic tradition of Keds with the new stylish, organic and sustainable culture of Loomstate as well as the search for integrity and quality of product at Barneys, resulted in an amazing project and a perfect collaboration, she said. "Everyone from Katherine Hepburn to Paul Newman have worn Keds," Gilhart said.
Kristin Kohler Burrows, president of Keds, said that working with retailers such as Barneys was a key part of the strategy for the Lexington, Massachusetts-based brand, a division of Topeka, Kansas-based Collective Brands Inc. It is extremely important for the company to raise the label's equity by collaborating with top retailers, she explained, and added that Barneys is one of the major, respected and critical retailers out there in the contemporary environment.
The opportunity to create a collection with Loomstate, Burrows said, was a way to expand its Green Label program, which was first presented last spring. Loomstate have been one of the few brands that has successfully implemented its green platform into the fashion platform, she said. Fashion cannot be sacrificed for green, and this is one of the primary reasons why the collaborative work resonates with Barneys. Burrows added that Keds plan to continue pursuing partnerships with retailers and other fashion labels.
The new footwear collection is also charitable, with a percentage of profit donated to The Organic Exchange through 1 per cent For The Planet. The mission of The Organic Exchange is to deliver sustained environmental, economic and social benefits by means of expansion of organic agriculture.
In 1916, Keds designed the world's first sneaker, thus inventing the new footwear category and the term, sneaker. In 1917 the term was coined by the brand's advertising agent, Henry Nelson McKinney, because the rubber sole was making the shoe quiet. Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay Hahn of Loomstate drew from Keds rich brand heritage and iconic history to reinterpret the classic Champion style for the new designer collection.
"The Keds Champion epitomizes timeless function and was born out of smart industrial minds; it is a great honor to apply our nature-inspired prints and organic cotton commitment to this cool, iconic American classic," said Hahn. Gregory and Hahn utilized vibrant nature-inspired prints on a softened canvas in order to give a lived-in look to their collection that is an example of an effortless style reflective of both Keds and Loomstate.